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Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

As iron, or lead, or gold, or silver, when cast into the fire is freed from that hard consistency which is natural to it, being changed into softness, and so long as it continues in the fire, is still dissolved from its native hardness — after the same manner the soul that has renounced the world, and fixed its desires only upon the Lord, and has received that heavenly fire of the Godhead, and of the love of the Spirit, is disentangled from all love of the world, and set free from all the corruption of the affections; it turns all things out of itself, and is changed from the hardness of sin, and melted down in a fervent and unspeakable love for that heavenly Bridegroom alone, whom it has received.

– St. Macarius of Egypt

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More from John Chrysostom and his homilies on Philippians:

For I have learned, says he, in whatsoever state I am, therein to be content.

Wherefore, this is an object of discipline, and exercise, and care, for it is not easy of attainment, but very difficult, and a new thing. In whatsoever state I am, says he, therein to be content. I know how to be abased, and I know also how to abound. In everything and in all things have I learned the secret. That is, I know how to use little, to bear hunger and want. Both to abound, and to suffer need.

But, says one, there is no need of wisdom or of virtue in order to abound. There is great need of virtue, not less than in the other case. For as want inclines us to do many evil things, so too does plenty. For many ofttimes, coming into plenty, have become indolent, and have not known how to bear their good fortune. Many men have taken it as an occasion of no longer working. But Paul did not so, for what he received he consumed on others, and emptied himself for them. This is to know. He was in nowise relaxed, nor did he exult at his abundance; but was the same in want and in plenty, he was neither oppressed on the one hand, nor rendered a boaster on the other. Both to be filled, says he, and to be hungry, both to abound, and to be in want.

Many know not how to be full, as for example, the Israelites, ate, and kicked Deuteronomy 32:15, but I am equally well ordered in all. He shows that he neither is now elated, nor was before grieved: or if he grieved, it was on their account, not on his own, for he himself was similarly affected.

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The world is trying the experiment of attempting to form a civilized but non-Christian mentality. The experiment will fail; but we must be very patient in awaiting its collapse; meanwhile redeeming the time; so that the Faith may be preserved alive through the dark ages before us; to renew and rebuild civilization, and to save the world from suicide. – T.S. Eliot

This article is worth reading and some serious contemplation: Confessions of a Localist in Training

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There is an art to fishing, and Jesus demonstrated the nuances of that skill when He called Peter and Andrew to follow Him.  John Chrysostom (Matthew, homily 14) explains…

“And walking by the sea of Galilee, He saw two brethren, Simon that was surnamed Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishers.  And He says unto them, ‘Come ye after me, and I will make you fishers of men.’  And they left their nets, and followed Him.”  (Matthew 4:18-19)

And yet John says that they were called in another manner.  Whence it is evident that this was a second call; and from many things one may perceive this.  For there it is said, that they came to Him when John was not yet cast into prison; but here, after he was in confinement. And there Andrew calls Peter, but here Jesus calls both.  And John says, Jesus seeing Simon coming, says, You are Simon, the Son of Jona, you shall be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, a stone. (John 1:42)

But Matthew says that he was already called by that name; for his words are, Seeing Simon that was called Peter. And from the place whence they were called, and from many other things, one may perceive this; and from their ready obedience, and abandonment of all. For now they were well instructed beforehand. Thus, in the other case, Andrew is seen coming into His house, and hearing many things; but here, having heard one bare word, they followed immediately. Since neither was it unnatural for them to follow Him at the beginning, and then leave Him again and return anew to their own craft, when they saw both John thrown into prison, and Himself departing. Accordingly you see that He finds them actually fishing. But He neither forbad them at the first when minded to withdraw, nor having withdrawn themselves, did He let them go altogether; but He gave way when they started aside from Him, and comes again to win them back; which kind of thing is the great point in fishing.

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Now the soul is in some way attached to the pleasant things of life through the senses of the body. Through the eyes it delights in material beauty, through the ears it inclines to melodious sounds, and so it is also affected by smell, taste, and touch, as nature has disposed to be proper to each. Hence, as it is attached to the pleasant Snailthings of life through the sensible faculty as if by a nail, it is hard to turn away from them. It has grown up together with these attachments much in the same way as the shellfish and snails are bound to their covering of clay; and so it is slow to make such movements, since it drags along the whole burden of a lifetime. As such is its condition, the soul is easily captured by its persecutors with the threat of confiscation of property or loss of sonic other things that are coveted in this life; and so it gives in easily, and yields to the power of its persecutor.

Gregory of Nyssa, The Beatitudes


To read more on this particular beatitude, visit Orthodox Way of Life

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More from the homilies of John Chrysostom (347-407)

the words of the Scriptures are our spiritual weapons; but if we know not how to fit those weapons and to arm our scholars rightly, they keep indeed their proper power, but cannot help those who receive them. For let us suppose there to be a strong corselet [a piece of armor to cover the trunk], and helm [helmet], and shield, and spear; and let one take this armor and put the corselet upon his feet, the helmet over his eyes instead of on his head, let him not put the shield before his breast, but perversely tie it to his legs: will he be able to gain any advantage from the armor? will he not rather be harmed? It is pknights armourlain to any one that he will. Yet not on account of the weakness of the weapons, but on account of the unskillfulness of the man who knows not how to use them well.

So with the Scriptures, if we confound their order; they will even so retain their proper force, yet will do us no good. Although I am always telling you this both in private and in public, I effect nothing, but see you all your time nailed to the things of this life, and not so much as dreaming of spiritual matters. Therefore our lives are careless, and we who strive for truth have but little power, and have become a laughing stock to Greeks and Jews and Heretics. Had you been careless in other matters, and exhibited in this place the same indifference as elsewhere, not even so could your doings have been defended; but now in matters of this life, every one of you, artisan and politician alike, is keener than a sword, while in necessary and spiritual things we are duller than any; making by-work business, and not deeming that which we ought to have esteemed more pressing than any business, to be by-work even.

Do you not know that the Scriptures were written not for the first of mankind alone, but for our sakes also? Do you not hear Paul say, that they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world have come; that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope? (1 Corinthians 10:11; Romans 15:4)

– Gospel of John, homily 30

1 Corinthians 10:11

These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.

Romans 15:4

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

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More from the homilies of John Chrysostom (347-407)

“Can a man,” he says, enter into his mother’s womb, and be born?

Do you see how when one commits spiritual things to his own reasonings, he speaks ridiculously, seems to be trifling, or to be drunken, when he pries into what has been said beyond what seems good to God, and admits not the submnicodemusission of faith? Nicodemus heard of the spiritual Birth, yet perceived it not as spiritual, but dragged down the words to the lowness of the flesh, and made a doctrine so great and high depend upon physical consequence. And so he invents frivolities, and ridiculous difficulties.

Let us then, knowing this, not inquire into things relating to God by reasoning, nor bring heavenly matters under the rule of earthly consequences, nor subject them to the necessity of nature; but let us think of all reverently, believing as the Scriptures have said…

…For nothing causes such dizziness as human reasoning, all whose words are of earth, and which cannot endure to be enlightened from above. Earthly reasonings are full of mud, and therefore need we streams from heaven, that when the mud has settled, the clearer portion may rise and mingle with the heavenly lessons; and this comes to pass, when we present an honest soul and an upright life.

– Gospel of John, Homily 24.3

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